Young athletes are at risk of not being able to live out their dreams due to smoking cigarettes. However, with support, these individuals will have a real chance to make their dreams a reality.
Today, addiction to smoking plagues approximately 1 in 5 Americans. This accounts for more than 42 million people. According to the Surgeon General, for every one of the approximate 1,200 deaths from smoking which occur every day, statistically, they are replaced by two young adults or teens. Smoking also profoundly affects young smokers, in some ways, more than adult smokers. This includes young and aspiring athletes. Young athletes depend on their stamina, endurance, lung capacity, strength, vision, focus, and more. Smoking, however, negatively affects each of these areas.
Why Young Athletes Smoke
Some young athletes choose to smoke for many of the same reasons that anyone may choose to smoke. However, there are some factors which are relevant and specific to young people, as well as athletes, which may compound the issue. The relationship between peers and the development of mutual habits, peer pressure, and attraction are three of the primary categories attributable to social factors. Sometimes an action or activity practiced by friends or social groups is then practiced by the individual.
Social factors also include marketing attraction. This form of marketing is meant to entice teens and young adults. These marketing efforts are to ensure that for every smoker who dies, a new smoker is born. Most people who end up as smokers typically begin around the age of 18. Social factors can also be subsets of peer pressure, such as the seemingly attractive nature of celebrities – musicians, actors, and professional athletes – who smoke. But there are also factors like general stress, stress related to school, stress related to relationships, family troubles, stress issues related to performance, performance anxiety, etc., that may lead to smoking.
How Smoking Affects Young Athletes
Smoking as a young athlete can lead to subnormal, or stunted lung development. This can even lead to becoming an adult with permanently underdeveloped lungs. Of all young smokers, approximately 1/3rd will die prematurely. However, most, if not all, will develop one or more types of health issues. Many of which can be severe and life changing. Young athletes need their bodies to operate at full capacity, and they need to maintain their overall health in order to stay competitive. Smoking can deprive them of the life-giving oxygen their brain, muscles, cells, and organs need to keep that competitive edge.
According to the World Health Organization, very early signs of heart disease and stroke are detected more commonly in young people who smoke. Younger smokers are also at a greater risk of developing lung cancer, as well as several other forms of cancer including esophageal, mouth, and blood cancers. In addition, statistically speaking, an individual who smokes one pack of cigarettes per day lives seven years less than someone who has never smoked cigarettes. Young individuals who smoke continue by suffering from shortness of breath three times more often than those who do not smoke cigarettes. This severely affects the performance of young athletes.
The effects do not stop there. When it comes to young athletes, teenage smokers are far more likely to suffer from emotional or psychological distress than a teenager who does not smoke. This is a very critical issue when addressing young athletes. These individuals must maintain a solid level of mental, emotional, and psychological stability and focus in order to keep their reflexes and senses sharp.
We are asking for your support to ensure young and aspiring athletes have the hope of one day becoming professional athletes. Smoking can not only cripple a dream, but it can also cripple a young body. Through education and support, we can help put an end to smoking by young athletes everywhere. By supporting this cause, you will be helping to keep someone’s dream alive. You may also be helping to make someone’s dream come true. Young athletes are our future Olympians, our future hall of famers, and our future sports heroes. Let’s come together to keep their names off a hospital docket, and on a future trading card – where it belongs.